The Cambrian

Bees and trees in focus as Honey Queen visits Cambria

American Honey Queen Kim Kester hails from Wisconsin and has six beehives.
American Honey Queen Kim Kester hails from Wisconsin and has six beehives.

America has a Honey Queen, and she’ll be in Cambria for the Bee Faire on Sunday, May 1. Visitors can watch bees at work in an observation hive. Dogs will be in their finest fancy dress, outfitted as bees for the BuzzyPups Parade.

The event starts at noon at the Cambria Historical Museum on Center Street, with opening remarks by Kim Kester, America’s Honey Queen, and concludes with the BuzzyPups Parade at 3:30 p.m.

It’s part of Cambria’s Save the Trees, Save the Bees Weekend, Saturday, April 30, and Sunday, May 1.

Kicking off the weekend on Saturday, between 1 and 4 p.m., Greenspace hosts the Arbor Day Festival for the Forest at the Creekside Reserve on Center Street. Visitors can dance and sway to the Zen Mountain Poets band from 1 to 3 p.m. (http://zenmountainpoets.com), and Monterey pine seedlings will be available for sale, with instructions on how to plant and care for them.

Artwork and haiku created by Santa Lucia Middle School students in the Greenspace Watershed Field Education Program will be displayed. Docents will tell the story of the Chinese temple, part of Cambria’s history. Raffle tickets will be available, with the winner receiving lunch at a local restaurant.

Bring something to sit on. Beer, wine, lemonade and snacks available at the concert.

Admission is $10 at the gate, kids younger than 14 free.

Sunday’s Bee Faire, sponsored by Beautify Cambria Association, is a free event celebrating bees and raising awareness of their importance to our food crops and ecosystem. Honeybees are necessary to pollinate about one-third of U.S. food crops. They are credited with about $19 billion in value to U.S. agriculture.

Local and exotic honey will be available for tasting and sale. Try some mead, an alcoholic drink produced by fermenting honey. It’s the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage. Baked treats made with honey, such as baklava, will melt in your mouth.

Honey Queen Kester, 23, of Wisconsin is a graduate student in ag education, building on her dual undergraduate major of dairy and poultry science. She took up beekeeping as a hobby in 2014, and now keeps six hives.

“I was that kid who took every animal possible to the fair,” she said in an interview.

Serving as Honey Queen makes her the national spokesperson for the American Beekeeping Federation, a trade organization of beekeepers and honey producers. She worked up to the national role by being county and state Honey Queen. It got her over any shyness she felt when she was younger.

“I love to meet the people of the area, see what kinds of plants they have, what they are doing, what they can do for honeybees and native pollinators,” she said.

Bees are struggling, with loss of habitat to monoculture cropping and environmental toxins such as pesticides and other chemicals, electrosmog from cell towers and other sources, and climate change. Colony collapse disorder, in which all the bees in a hive suddenly die, remains unresolved. About one-third of all bees have died of it every year for the past five years.

“Bees have to go further to find good sources of good nectar and pollen,” Kester said. “They need more habitat so they can forage within a few miles of the hive.”

She’s eager to visit the Central Coast to learn what plants are available to bees and what residents can do to support bees. Bee-friendly local plants will be available for sale at the Bee Faire.

Being Honey Queen is in line with her career aspirations to educate children and adults about agriculture.

“By educating schoolchildren and adults as to how crucial bees are, people can consider making changes such as reducing or eliminating chemicals in the home and planting flowers in their yards,” she said.

Local color will be provided by Cambria’s Lady Tie Dye, Dianne Brooke, who will emcee the events. Other speakers include humane swarm relocator Chad Moribito of Hakuna Matata Bee Removal and Relocation Co. and Anna Rempel, founder of Central Coast Beekeepers Alliance.

Dog lovers are invited to dress their dogs as bees for the BuzzyPups Parade, a costume contest for dogs. Chad Carroll, co-owner of Maddie Mae’s Pet Pantry, will emcee the event.

“The main goal is to raise awareness of bees, and to have some fun with our dogs,” he said. “That’s the greatest part.”

There will lots of other activities, including beeswax candle-making, hat-making, face painting and coloring.

Bees are welcome at the Historical Society’s flowering gardens. Beautify Cambria sponsored the new trash and recycling receptacles, which are topped with planters.

“People don’t realize their footprint,” Carroll said. “It’s like voting. They say, ‘What difference do I make?’ But multiply it a billion times, and it does make a difference.”

The Bee Faire will help Cambrians make the community more bee-friendly, for both the European honeybees and native bees.

All are at risk.

“If we ignore it and go too far, the losses may not be fixable,” Kester said.

Christine Heinrichs is vice president of Beautify Cambria Association.

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